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(When) Will Linux Pass Apple On The Desktop? 1316

Posted by timothy
from the my-little-3-percenters dept.
EisPick writes "A column posted today on Slate ponders projections that Linux PCs will pass Apple in desktop market share next year. Will Linux do to OS X what it already has done to Tru64, Irix, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris and emerge as the only viable competitor to Windows on the desktop?"
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(When) Will Linux Pass Apple On The Desktop?

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  • by TedTschopp (244839) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:53PM (#6279154) Homepage
    That Steve Jobs will give up? I mean come on. He is the leader of a company whose brand loyality is through the roof. They are making money. And are pushing the boundries... all the time.

    As long as Jobs continues to raise up religious zealots to the cause, Apple will never really be dead.

    Also of note, who says that Jobs can't encorporate all the advantages Linux has into his OS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:55PM (#6279177)
    Not to mention the fact that the experience of OS X on the desktop kicks ass on KDE or GNOME. I love Linux as a server OS, but I moved to Mac for the desktop. In my mind, there's not much incentive to go the other way.
  • wait a minute (Score:2, Informative)

    by SweetAndSourJesus (555410) <JesusAndTheRobot @ y a hoo.com> on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:58PM (#6279211)
    Better in so many areas? Care to elaborate, or am I just supposed to tell my boss "well, it's better...but only in vague, hard to articulate ways"?

    The "new mac os" isn't a GUI for Unix. It may have BSD underpinnings, but that has fuckall to do with Unix, unless you happen to be posting from 1985.

    It's not just a kernel and a gui in a box, either. It's a system. Like FreeBSD, sort of. A collection of software more than just an OS.

  • What did it do??? (Score:5, Informative)

    by evilviper (135110) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:03PM (#6279264) Journal
    Will Linux do to OS X what it already has done to Tru64, Irix, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris

    Would anyone mind telling me exactly what Linux "already has done" to the above OS?

    Tru64 and HP/UX were both doomed as soon as the Compaq/HP merger happened, and I don't think things would be much different even if Linux wasn't around.

    How about SGI? It doesn't seem to be an example of where Linux beat Irix, it seems to be an example of where ia32 systems beat out propritary systems in price/performance.

    As for AIX, IBM may be doing a lot of talking about how Linux will eventually replace AIX, but it isn't happening now (nor do I suspect it will ever happen) so I don't think that's much of an example.

    I'm not sure why Solaris is on this list... Sun is still going strong, and Solaris is doing just fine.
  • Huh? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:03PM (#6279270)
    When has Tru64, Irix, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris ever been a viable alternative to windows on the "desktop"?
  • From the 'article' (Score:4, Informative)

    by BigBadBri (595126) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:03PM (#6279274)
    "IBM, DEC, SCO, and finally Sun have lost the non-Windows portion of the server market to Linux..."

    So some of the lower-end boxes, that can be easily load-balanced, are being set up using Linux rather than Solaris / AIX / HP-UX.

    What precisely is the 'Windows portion' of the server market, anyway?

    Certainly not big-assed application servers that are the meat and drink of the big Unix vendors - in fact the 'Windows portion' of the server market looks tailor made for Linux replacement.

    IBM probably isn't too bothered - the ability to run multiple Linux images on their big iron is a major selling point.

    Bah - Slate is a M$ owned site, anyway.

  • by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:04PM (#6279287)
    ...but I just don't see this happening in the long-term. Up until now, Apple has been reeling from Motorola's catastrophes and leftover problems from the Stone Age (aka pre Jobs' return). On the other hand, Linux is getting great press and has made great strides, both in terms of acceptance and the actual product. Given the abundance of hardware out there that Linux runs on (namely x86 for purposes of this discussion) and being free as in beer, many people have tried and liked Linux. It is also important to note that in the past few years when Linux has gained the most on the desktop have also been coupled with a recession where people haven't been as willing to buy new computers. It comes as no surprise to me that Linux might pass Apple next year.

    On the other hand, I see a very bright future for Apple. This article couldn't be more timely as today we Apple loyalists heard some of the best news since OS X came out: the shackles of Motorola have been cast off for pure IBM goodness. With the G5 and OS X, I think Apple is unstoppable. Apple already sports the nicest laptops, and now the desktop offerings are equally awe inspiring. One of the biggest complaints about Apple has been that the are overpriced and underpowered. With the G5 fixing the power problem, I think the economy and IBM will help with the price. IBM reportedly can produce the 970 much cheaper than Motorola could produce the G4, and I wouldn't be surprised if Apple tried to pass on these savings in the process of trying to carve out more than their traditional niche. Also, if/when the economy gets back into swing, more people will have the money and be willing to go for a pricier Mac if they believe it to be a superior machine.
  • by AtaruMoroboshi (522293) <Anthony@nosPAm.overwhelmed.org> on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:06PM (#6279306) Homepage
    "$1999 for an entry level G5?"

    there is nothing entry level about any of the G5's. If there was, they'd be in a new iMac, not Power Mac.
  • by cesarcardoso (1139) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:07PM (#6279310) Homepage Journal
    ...but outside the Empire, Linux desktop usage is gaining an incredible momentum. Not only in Germany [observer.co.uk], France and all over Europe, but - and that's really interesting - in Asia and Latin America. No wonder the article tells about a next year turn; all those Linux deployments in India, China, Germany and Brazil will start to appear in 2004-5.
  • Well Said ! (Score:1, Informative)

    by wukie (684014) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:14PM (#6279371)
    I also purchased about 6 Linux distros, and downloaded countless others, but am currently only using one, so you can chop off another 5 users!

    I mainly use Win2k on a server spec'd computer (Dual Athlon MP, Corsair memory with ECC enabled, Tyan mobo, Antec Power Supply, etc.) and have very few problems with Windows.

    I'm neither a fan of Intel, AMD, Microsoft or Apple, but I have to admit the new Apple computers are jaw dropping.

    I also like appliances that WORK 24/7. I turned on my DSC alarm system 4 years ago and it hasn't missed a beat. I put Sun and IBM mainframes in the same reliable category as my alarm, but these are servers. The new Apples might get there aswell for a few hundred thousand dollars less.
  • by robson (60067) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:17PM (#6279398)
    ...done to Tru64, Irix, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris and emerge as the only viable competitor to Windows on the desktop?

    Of course not. Two reasons:

    1) Apple's followers are nothing less than fanatical; you will pry their Macs from their cold dead fingers.

    2) Apple has seen the light. The costs of embracing Unix underpinnings and âoeMostlyOpenSource,â are going to seriously pay off. Soon, there will be nothing cool that comes out for the Linux Desktop that doesn't soon run on the Mac.
    You're missing the point. The Mac users don't need to switch to Linux for Linux to overtake Macs as the second-most-used desktop system. All that's needed is for Windows users to swtich over to Linux.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:31PM (#6279520)
    When will the Amiga surpass Mac OS X?

    Actually you can buy an Amiga One [compamiga.com] with a G3 or G4 now, and run Mac on Linux.

    Of course, now we need a G5 model.
  • by Bearpaw (13080) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:35PM (#6279567)
    The real kicker is expecting people to jump to a completely other hardware platform just to indulge in OS 10 niftiness.

    Well, maybe I'm just a twisted, freakish excuse for a human being, but that's exactly what I did. And I know a couple of other people who did, too. (Before the Switch campaign started.)

    Sure, it didn't hurt that Apple makes good-quality hardware, but "OS X niftiness" was the deciding factor.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

    by dbrutus (71639) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:39PM (#6279591) Homepage
    Linux is more likely to be a positive than a negative for Apple. Without Linux, would KDE be where it is today? Would KDE even exist? But without KDE, Apple wouldn't have been able to take KHTML and make Safari. But it's not one-sided as the KHTML group benefited by getting a great many feature and stability improvements to their library contributed back to their project from Apple.

    Linux is for when you're young, poor, and in need of serious computing horsepower. OS X is for when you've got money in the bank and you don't want to have to deal with the Linux hassle.

    Will Linux eventually get its usability act together and challenged OS X on its own turf? Maybe, but on its way there, Linux would much more quickly gut Windows dominance and that's a result I can live with.
  • by cdecroes (513547) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:46PM (#6279655)
    one thing linux has over mac is price. I bit the bullet and bought some mac hardware. I thought it was worth it the initial investment to have the cool hardware and stable software. Since then apple has nickle and dimed me to death!!! I had to pay for a .mac account and now I have to pay $129 every time Steve farts. It's been twice now that they are requiring payment for OS upgrades. If you look at the cost of the OS, apple probably costs more than win32. There is a win32 release every couple of years and it's around $100 or less, apple has one a year and wants big money.
  • Forced Upgrades (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:47PM (#6279664)
    It's not a forced upgrade.

    I've got boxes running 10.1 Server around here because no one "forced" me to run 10.2 Server.

    Likewise I know my mother's 233 iMac and another 333 iMac I support are running plainjane 10.1 and it runs well.

    I'll get 10.3 for my machines, but not becuase Steve Jobs is pointing a CD to my head screaming "Forced Upgrade biaaatchhhh! Now shell for Panther!" but because I want the features.
  • by dbrutus (71639) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:58PM (#6279759) Homepage
    You might not be able to get it delivered today but you certainly can order it. It may ship in August but you can't really say it doesn't exist when they wheel it out onto the stage, it has a SKU number and they're taking orders for August delivery.
  • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

    by saden1 (581102) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:13PM (#6279894)
    Apple hardware is pretty pricey so I'm sure they are maying a nice profit from it. I imagine most /.ers are bargain hunters like me. The only real advantage of Windows is Games. Both OS X and Linux lack the support of game developers. The two OS's are stuck in a viscous cycle of developers not wanting to produce games for them because of low market shares, and the OS's not being able to gain enough user base to demand games on the platforms.

    I dual boot not because I want to, but because I am addicted to games. Give me games and I'll toss my Windows Disk out of the window.
  • by sleeper0 (319432) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:31PM (#6280054)
    i think the best way to gauge the real split for desktop OS's is browser impressions for each platform. This way it realistically measures desktops in use and not shipped units or servers. It also catches people who use multiple desktop OS's and should accurately track the split between them.

    Google Zeitgeist [google.com] is a great way to take a look at those figures over time at a pretty universal location.

    For may '03 google lists linux at 1% and mac at 3%. Linux zealots may look at that and say well 2% is miniscule with the rate of growth that won't take long, etc. But go back and look at june 2001 zeitgeist and you'll see similar numbers. Linux with 1% and Mac with 4%

    The conclusion i draw from those numbers is that linux desktop use isnt growing at any significant rate at all, and the only danger Apple has in getting passed on the desktop is if they lose a dramatic amount of market share to windows.

  • by wavedeform (561378) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:53PM (#6280250)
    Remember Bill Gates still owns a major chunk of Apple - they are not the bitter rivals people make them out to be!

    That hasn't been true for years. Microsoft invested $150 Mil in non-voting stock, more or less when Jobs returned to the fold, and they sold it a couple of years later at a profit.

  • by kalidasa (577403) on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:07PM (#6280346) Journal
    Let's see, my OS upgrades on this Machine:

    OS X 10.0.4 came with machine.
    OS X 10.1.0 payed $20
    10.1.1-10.1.5 or so: free
    10.2 payed $129
    10.2.1-10.2.6 free
    10.3 will pay $129
    10.3.1-10.3.x probably free.

    As for the Win32 price, you're comparing OS X to Win Home. OS X is more comparable to Win Pro, at a $199 pricetag. And the fact is that the difference between 10.2 and 10.3 is going to be as significant as that between 2K and XP.

    And then there's the family license for OS X: $199. Comparable license cost for Windows XP Pro: $994 or so.
  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by EnVisiCrypt (178985) <groovetheorist AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:29PM (#6280518)
    I call shenanigans.

    A bottom line (and I mean BOTTOM. radeon VE, onboard sound, 256 mb ram, 40gb hard drive) Xeon capable Dell, *starts* at $1,048. If you got yours refurb, it's not a fair comparison. Look at the Apple refurbs if you're going to do that.

    A truly comparable, new Dell runs $2,509, which is much less reasonable, especially given that the Xeon is a 32-bit processor.
  • by MidnightBrewer (97195) on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:45PM (#6280657)
    On my Mac, I run OSX and Yellow Dog Linux. Within OSX itself, I can compile and run pretty much every desktop environment available for Linux, not to mention thousands of open-source programs. I can run these seamlessly, side-by-side with my OSX applications. Steve does not block me from doing what I want with my system, and even allows me to boot directly into a CLI right from the login screen. I also have complete shell access within OSX itself, completely customizable to my preference (bash, tcsh, csh, etc.)

    I guess it all comes down to how well you really know computers, doesn't it?
  • by Cecil (37810) on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:49PM (#6280682) Homepage
    and on what planet do you not have to fuck with drivers ?

    Clearly you have never used Mac OS X.

    Although Apple does have an advantage in that the majority of the hardware they've got to support is hardware designed and manufactured by Apple, it still doesn't change the fact that you simply *don't* have to fuck with drivers in OS X.

    At least, I never have. (OS X 10.2 / PowerBook G4 12")
  • Re:$500 machine...? (Score:2, Informative)

    by chasingporsches (659844) on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:53PM (#6280699)
    i'd like to repeat the specs of the powermac G5 for $2999:

    Dual 2GHz PowerPC G5

    1GHz frontside bus

    512K L2 cache/processor

    512MB DDR400 128-bit SDRAM

    Expandable to 8GB SDRAM

    160GB Serial ATA

    SuperDrive

    Three PCI-X Slots

    ATI Radeon 9600 Pro

    64MB DDR video memory

    56K internal modem

    so how does that $630 athlon box compare? give me a break. sure, you save $3000 (if you get an apple 17"LCD with that G5). but a single athlon compared to a dual G5? let alone the other features like serial ata, pci-x, airport extreme, superdrive, etc.
  • Nit Pick (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tony (765) on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:59PM (#6280744) Journal
    2) DLL hell. I use Gnome and KDE sometimes. Mostly I try to use a few of the programs from each. GNU cash, KWORD .... which requires a lot of libraries == unnessary bloat, slowness and confusion when source compiling.

    Okay, I agree with most of what you said, but this is just silly.

    First, "DLL Hell" is reserved for DLL conflict, in which different programs require different versions of a library but the system can't cope; not "requires a lot of libraries."

    Second, the fact they require a lot of libraries is *good*. The goal of Object Oriented Programming is code-reuse; this is considered a Good Thing. Now, libraries aren't necessarily OO in nature, but the fact that all these apps use a core set of functionality is really A Good Thing. This *doesn't* lead to bloat; it leads to faster development with less bugs, as the library becomes well-tested and well-debugged.

    Slowness? Yes, since Linux seems to be a bit slow in dynamic binding. Troube compiling? Possibly, if you download the source and compile yourself. But, desktop users shouldn't be doing this! They should be doing "apt-get install gnumeric gnucash kword" or whatever. Or clicking friendly checkboxes and a button that says, "Download and Install."

    Or whatever.

    The rest of your points are valid. Not debilitating, I think, but valid. Unfortunately, because of the way politics works (and the computer industry is driven more by ad-hoc business politics than by worth and value, that's for fucking god-damned sure), I think OS-X doesn't stand much of a chance against MS-Windows.

    But then again, Linux doesn't stand much of a chance, either.

    Yet.
  • Re:Yellowdog Linux (Score:2, Informative)

    by MidnightBrewer (97195) on Monday June 23, 2003 @11:09PM (#6280816)
    Ever actually install Yellow Dog Linux?

    I downloaded it for free. Burned the CDs. Rebooted. Ran the installer. Except for some grief from my monitor (which even OSX is having some trouble with - I think I picked the wrong monitor), everything was set up automagically, no sweat. Sound, web, video, everything.
  • by Xabraxas (654195) on Monday June 23, 2003 @11:55PM (#6281159)
    I've heard this bunch of garbage for too long. I installed Red Hat 9 on a laptop with a scanner, a printer, a pcmcia ethernet card, and an external usb hard drive all without a hitch. The OS detected everything and I didn't have to touch a thing other than installing a driver for the scanner. It was as easy, if not easier, than installing windows on the same machine, which I have done quite a few times before.

    It's time to stop spreading the FUD. Anyone who can setup and use Windows can setup a Mandrake or Red Hat box. It is only difficult for some people stuck in a Windows world who couldn't imagine anything else. The completely clueless will learn either just as easily. Admittedly even former MS zealots (myself included) can find it not too difficult to setup a Linux box.

  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by ksheff (2406) * on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @12:21AM (#6281326) Homepage

    Did you get it from Dell's refurb site or someone in Round Rock who has been sneaking machines out the door? The lowest price SMP capable machine that I've priced out from Dell is a Precision 450n with the minimum amount of RAM, IDE hard drives, cheapest video card, linux, etc. and it came out to be a little over $1300. To get the DVD burner & something equivalent to the low end G5, one had to get XP (DVD burners are supported under linux, ???), and it was about $1740 ... not much cheaper than the Apple machine.

  • by eLoco (459203) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @01:18AM (#6281615)

    Maybe it's just me, but I see Linux and OS X competing for the title of Next Killer OS, while simultaneously complementing each other -- both are Unix, but they differ/compete on price, ease-of-use, available applications, etc. (Apple's stylish and now superior-performance hardware is also a big carrot for going with Mac). Anyway, I don't see how this competition can be a bad thing for either, but it could spell trouble for Microsoft:

    1. Existing Mac users will not switch. Ever. (This has already been pointed out ad nauseum.) So, no decrease in market share for Apple.
    2. This leaves primarily Windows users to switch. Those who are budget-conscious and/or ubergeeks will choose Linux, those who can afford to spend more and/or want a stylish, easy-to-use, "just works" system will be drawn to Mac.

    Of the Windows user who will switch it seems likely that more will choose Linux than Mac, especially as KDE and GNOME become friendlier, but some will choose Mac, so it really seems that Apple and Linux only gain.

  • by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @02:29AM (#6281923)
    http://www.apple.com/macosx/panther/

    At the bottom right corner of the page, it says a little about the *nix side of OS X. One thing is that the X11 client will be built into Panther. I don't know about being able to use other WMs though.

    To kinda respond to the grandparent post, I still don't think many novices will venture into X11 apps without some sort of package manager.
  • Re:No (Score:2, Informative)

    by k-zed (92087) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:13AM (#6282301) Homepage Journal
    Well, i've been burning DVDs under linux since a while. Admittedly, it wasn't exactly trivial to set up, but you can get it to work by using a program called cdrecord-prodvd (a fork of cdrecord with dvd support built in). You can download it from here: ftp://ftp.berlios.de/pub/cdrecord/ProDVD/
  • by Jeff Kelly (309129) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:17AM (#6282318)

    Who in God's name still uses Lotus Notes

    According to IBM quite a few actually. Well it may suck but it is still better than the Alternatives (Exchange/Groupwise)

    Full Acrobat is available for Linux. I've never had a crash or a problem.

    Acrobat is only available for Windows and Mac. Acrobat Reader(!) is available for Unix.

    Who the HELL do you know that uses PageMaker or FrameMaker? If so, they have much bigger problems than not having Linux versions available...

    We use Framemaker exclusively for all our Technical Documentation our Books, Master Thesises etc. IMHO Word does suck big for such documents. With word you will never get a document which adheres even the basic typografic principles and it is therefore unusable for anything but the simplest tasks.
  • Re:About your sig... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @07:00AM (#6282726)
    Maybe you should go read the MPEG4 specification. DivX;-) (3.11a, 4, 5, XVid, whatever) are all implementations of MPEG4.

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